LSI Architects wins global design prize

Cley Marshes Nature Reserve Visitor Centre, designed by London and Norwich based LSI Architects for Norfolk Wildlife Trust, has won an Emirates Glass LEAF Award 2008, under the category Best Sustainable Development.
The £675k cutting-edge, sustainable Visitor Centre at Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s (NWT) Cley Marshes Nature Reserve, based on the North Norfolk Coast, has beaten stiff worldwide competition to be chosen as a winner of the prestigious award, one of the highest accolades in the architecture and design sector worldwide. The project was selected from over 100 international submissions.
Now in their fifth year, the Emirates Glass LEAF Awards have rapidly become one of the most prestigious global architectural prizes, recognising excellence in the international architectural, design and build fields. With architects from all over the world eligible to enter, the awards have attracted entries from 26 countries worldwide.
Cley Marshes Nature Reserve Visitor Centre project consisted of the design and construction of a new Visitor Centre and surrounding external works, together with the refurbishment of an existing timber and thatch visitor facility at the site. The car park capacity has also been increased, from 40 to 130 spaces. The Centre provides Cley with a valuable community resource and visitors with an inspiring, ground-hugging building from which they can enjoy and learn about this unique and beautiful environment. The development includes a reception, shop, café, observation and interpretation space with new interactive and educational equipment.
The scheme utilises an extensive range of renewable technology and sustainable features and materials to minimise the environmental impact of the building on its surroundings. It is planned that the ground source heat pump (GSHP) and solar-thermal collectors will deliver a 70% improvement in terms of space heating and hot water provision respectively. The remaining 30% of the energy needed, in each case, is made up by the wind turbine which, at peak output, supplies 84% of the building’s electricity requirements. In total, the new Visitor Centre produces 10,967kg less CO2 per annum when compared with a typical new building (built to current standards) of this size and type.
David Thompson, a Principal Member of LSI Architects, commented: “The practice is delighted that this exemplary sustainable building has secured both an international design award against tough, worldwide competition as well as a regional business award. Norfolk Wildlife Trust placed an extraordinary level of confidence in the design team to come up with an original design, meeting the sustainability credentials required by the funding stakeholders. The structural engineers Hale Allen Jones, and building services engineers Mott Macdonald provided excellent input, under the ever-watchful eye of QS Stratton Castell. Matters of legislative compliance, and how they are addressed, can also have a profound impact upon design. For this reason, I would like to thank not only the project team involved, especially architect Tony Calcott, but also the help of our building control partners, CNC.
“To satisfy the budget and client brief for an environmentally sound building, we developed a suitable specification based upon locally sourced, readily available products that were familiar to the builder. Timber products are FSC certified throughout and natural paint finishes including mineral paint for the walls and natural hardwax, for wood and plywood surfaces, were opted for.”
Brendan Joyce, Director of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: “Responding to a long standing vision of Norfolk Wildlife Trust for a new Visitor Centre at NWT Cley Marshes, LSI Architects engaged in detailed consultation with the local community and local Planning and Countryside Officers in developing their proposals for the building. Cley’s new Visitor Centre is a ‘green’ building that has successfully introduced new technology into a protected environment. The new Visitor Centre is inspiring and has been designed by LSI Architects with great sensitivity to blend seamlessly into this unique and outstanding environment. The architects have also ensured that the new site eases disabled persons’ access to and from the nature reserve and have introduced a disabled person’s lift. We are delighted with the overall environmentally- and user-friendly outcome.”
Albert Williamson Taylor, Chairman of the panel of judges for the Emirates Glass LEAF Awards said: “The architects have designed a building which uses everything it can for a sustainable project and the end result does indeed say ‘Look – we are doing everything we can!'”
The judges believed this to be an “honest piece of architecture” in that the building uses proven technologies as well as elements taken from its surroundings. All of the judges were in agreement that “a lot of effort has been put into this project” – everything from the setting of the building right through to the materials and technologies.
This month, Cley Marshes Nature Reserve Visitor Centre also won the Eastern Daily Press Business Award in the ‘Design & Development’ category, sponsored by Bidwells. The scheme has also won an LABC (Local Authority Building Control) East Anglia Region Built In Quality Award 2008, under the category ‘Best Sustainability Innovation’. The Centre was also finalist in the Best Public Community Project category.

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